H is for…Genre? Hmmm

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Maybe I should have talked about genre yesterday, but featuring my cozy mystery, Her Cousin, Much Removed (which is free today) got me thinking about the topic, a day late for G. It’s all going haywire over here.

Anyway, my natural genre is humorous, offbeat science fiction. It’s how my brain works, it’s how I see the world and our relationship to technology. But then I got this opening line in my head, and suddenly I had to write it down. And then the next part.

I’m not a planner by any means, but suddenly I found myself surrounded by charts and notes, details about characters and their motivations, suspicious of everyone. And then I got to the point of the book where I had to figure out who did it.

It was staring at me, right there, from the notes. And I’ll tell you, it wasn’t the person I set out to pin it on. People surprise you, even when they’re fictional.

After I wrote the cozy, as I affectionately called it, I wrote a sequel to Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) which I’m currently editing. Going from a genre that wasn’t natural for me to one that was was like training with weights on my typing fingers. I took them off and ran faster than I had before.

Now I’m stretching in a different direction, with fantasy and young adult. It really sends your brain to new places, makes you willing to try a new approach, see things, while writing, a totally different way.

Have you tried a different genre? How did it go?

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New Genre, New Skills

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So, as mentioned in this morning’s book post, my cozy mystery is nearly ready to greet the world. And it’s a strange feeling.

My comfort zone is weird, funny sci-fi. so it’ s a bit of a stretch for me to branch into, well, funny mystery. It’s the “weird” that’s tough for me to shake.

That probably gives you a little insight into my personality, I’d say.

As a writer, though, the experience of trying a genre bound by rules I don’t normally follow (you know, like physics. And nature) was tough. I felt constricted.

It was also fantastic. I had to reason my way out of the very dark and very pointy corners I tend to write myself into, and it taught me a lot about different approaches to plotting issues. Mystery requires a precision in the first draft I don’t always have, since I’m not a planner.

And when I went back to my normal genre, I took that all with me. It was like I’d been training with weights on my typing fingers, and going back to the offbeat science fiction, I’d left them in the dust.

I think it’s a good thing for us, as writers, to push ourselves in new directions, to take away our writing security blankets. It strengthens us in all directions.